Gaping Maw


I am a gaping maw – a wide open gaping maw of unending unquenchable need. I feel as if I ever opened that maw, if I ever asked for help, if I ever showed my true self, my need, my pain, it is so great that I would scare off others, so great that no one could deal with it, so great that no one could love me. 

If I let others, even my husband, see my true need, my true pain, my true self, they would run off in terror. So I protect myself with a shield, a facade of strength. I don’t let people close, not really. I just seem to. Actually, I hold everyone at arms length. I let no one, not even myself, access to my true self, to my deepest pain, to my longing, to not feeling lovable, to not feeling truly able to love. I hold back always. 

I may appear one way and feel quite another. I appear capable and loving, but feel like a failure, never quite measuring up, never earning something that always should have been offered unconditionally.

Do We Have the Right to Die?

Right to Die

Upon reading Try Harder with Your Mental Illness by Henrietta M Ross of The Triumphant Weed, I remembered a topic that has been on my mind lately—whether we have the right to die.

Though I preach hope and advocate that people try treatment instead of taking their lives, I wonder whether it is reasonable to decide to die when the pain is too great to bear and does not respond to any treatment.

I often feel disingenuous telling people that there is hope, for that is not always true. Some of us living with mental illness respond more effectively to medication, psychotherapy, support, exercise, good nutrition, meditation and so on. Some do not.

No one chooses to have “treatment resistant” mental illness. We cannot will mental illness away. Treatment does not always work. Still, sometimes there are options we have not considered, options supported by science, that just may work.

My friend Dyane Harwood chose ECT when medication failed her. ECT saved her life when she suffered deep bipolar depression. With the help of an astute psychiatrist, she eventually found that adding an “old school” MAOI to her medication mix helped.

I assume I will get some fire, and perhaps some concern, for this post.

Further Thoughts on the Issue…

People With Mental Illness Deserve To Die With Dignity Too, Arthur Gallant, Mental-health advocate

Assisted Suicide for Mental Illness Gaining Ground, Nancy A. Melville

“A first-of-its-kind report offers insights into the characteristics and outcomes of requests for euthanasia on the grounds of suffering related to psychiatric illness in Belgium, where it is legal in that country.”

“We found that when considering patients’ demands seriously, most do find a way to continue with their life,” Dr Thienpont said.

Euthanasia requests, procedures and outcomes for 100 Belgian patients suffering from psychiatric disorders: a retrospective, descriptive study (Thienpont, 2015, BMJ Open 2015;5:e007454 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-007454)

“In Europe, psychological suffering stemming from either a somatic or mental disorder is acknowledged as a valid legal basis for euthanasia only in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.”

Holy Friday

Stained glass window of Jesus Christ on crucifix flanked by Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist

For those who do not believe in the value of religious mythology, I do. Whether or not the stories actually happened, whether or not they are literally true, they offer messages which are true. The meaning – the message – is what moves me.

In Christianity, today is Good Friday or Holy Friday. Holy Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The message I take away from Holy Friday is that God knows our pain, for Jesus as God incarnate suffered. I take this story to heart, for it has helped me to realize that I am NOT alone in my suffering. God knows, loves and forgives me.

Depressed I believed that I was alone, unloved, unforgivably flawed, and not worthy of life. I believed that the world would be a better place without me in it. I expected perfection from myself and had trouble accepting my brokenness. I hid my pain. I hid in shame. I had no compassion and no forgiveness for myself. If an omnipotent being can take human form and suffer pain on my behalf (on ALL our behalf), then I can forgive and love myself, I can feel compassion for myself, I can accept myself. I am not alone in my suffering. None of us is.

You are loved. You are not alone. Love yourself. You are worthy of your own love. Have compassion for yourself. Forgive yourself your brokenness. It is okay to not be okay. Take care.

Suffering and Meaning

“Existential psychologist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl (1959), learned through his own direct experience of severe torture, suffering, and loss, that part of the essence of the human experience is our capacity to find meaning in living through tragedy. He said, ‘In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds meaning’ (p. 113).”

– Walker Karraa, PhD, Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth, http://ow.ly/HA4OL